Bodhi Retreats-IMSB Measures to Prevent Spread of COVID
Updated August 16, 2023
Although government mandates have ended, we are continuing to make some efforts to prevent the transmission of the coronavirus at our retreats. The specific measures vary based on the retreat facility, available ventilation, number of participants, room size, and current rates of infection in the USA.
Given that participants are traveling from different states and may have been exposed to viruses in crowded conditions of airports and airlines, we believe the first few days of the retreat merit caution.
For the safety of everyone, all participants in our residential retreats are required to comply with the measures that we adopt. Adherence to our COVID measures is an act of compassion, care, and support for everyone at the retreat. We assure you that retreats can run smoothly and joyfully when there is compliance with measures to prevent the spread of illness.
Some people will welcome our measures with relief and appreciation, and some people may judge our measures as overly cautious or wearisome. It does not matter whether you believe that our measures are still necessary, whether you like or dislike them, or whether you find that they are more restrictive than current government requirements—we require your full compliance.
If you anticipate resisting any of our rules or are unwilling to wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth when indoors (including in the meditation hall), please do not attend our in-person events or residential retreats. Instead, consider attending one of Shaila’s online courses or retreats via zoom from the comfort of your home.
We are certain that wearing masks does not prevent the cultivation of mindfulness or concentration. Masks do not disrupt the transmission of the dhamma. But resistance, obstinance, and attachment to views and opinions can harm the entire retreat. We hope our position and expectations are clear, and that the care we take together will inspire us to create a wonderful retreat experience.
The list of measures below will give you a good sense of what to expect at our residential retreats as you decide whether this retreat is suitable for you. The exact measures are subject to change and will be adjusted to suit the situation at each retreat, given the conditions at that time and place.
Don’t Travel If You Are Ill
- It is most important that we make every effort to keep illness out of the retreat. If you get sick before the start of a program or have been exposed to someone with COVID, please contact our registrar and stay home. Do not attend the retreat if you have a cough, sore throat, or any symptoms like a mild cold or unusual fatigue even if you have tested negative for COVID.
- Everyone is asked to take extra precautions in the ten days prior to the retreat and during travel to the retreat. Avoid large gatherings, wear a mask when in public including while traveling to the retreat, and avoid situations that are likely to expose you to disease.
- We expect everyone to be considerate of one another’s health and safety and to report to the teacher immediately if cold symptoms occur or if feeling sick in any way during the retreat, even if you are confident that it is not COVID. We will try to avoid spreading any illness in the retreat.
- Teachers and participants will be vaccinated for COVID. At most of our retreat centers we cannot control the vaccination status of center employees. Applicants with medical exceptions may contact our registrar for consideration.
- Masking requirements will depend upon the conditions of ventilation and space in the facility. In 2023, face masks are required indoors for the first 3-4 days of the retreats, until we test-to-unmask. We anticipate that by 2024, masking will be optional.
- When masks are required, they must be worn completely over the mouth and nose in our indoor spaces unless eating or drinking (or talking in the case of teachers). N95 masks are highly recommended, but we accept cloth or surgical masks if they fit properly.
- Test before you travel. All teachers and participants will be required to show a negative COVID test taken no longer than 24 hours before arriving at the retreat. A rapid antigen test is sufficient.
- All participants are required to bring 4 rapid antigen tests to the retreat and will self-test at designated intervals. We will have a limited number of test kits for purchase ($10) if they are needed.
- These testing requirements will continue through 2024.
Recent Retreat Processes
- At our retreats in 2023, participants used 2 COVID tests: the first prior to arriving, the second on day 4. The teacher tested daily for the first 4 days. Once everyone tested negative the morning of day 4, mask wearing became optional.
- We keep windows open whenever possible and may have air purifiers running. Participants should bring scarfs, shawls, sweaters, fragrance-free mosquito repellant, or whatever you need to be comfortable in the season and climate. Please avoid noisy materials.
Seclusion and Communal Activities
- The schedule will include communal elements along with opportunities for seclusion. Self-scheduled practice periods may be included in the schedule. These can stagger occupancy of the common rooms and reduce the number of people in the meditation hall at one time. Retreatants may have options to practice in the meditation hall, their own rooms, or outside. However, this is not a self-retreat. Attendance at the morning and evening teachings, small group practice discussions, and certain elements of the scheduled program is expected and required.
- All participants should have a plan for getting home safely should they test positive or come down with an illness during the retreat. We are not able to take responsibility for the care of an ill participant. Most of our retreat centers do not have appropriate accommodations for isolation.
- Anyone refusing to comply with our mask requirements, testing schedule, disclosure of test results, or other measures to prevent the spread of illness will be required to leave the retreat immediately.
- If you leave the retreat early for any reason, you will bear all associated costs. Retreat fees are not refundable.
To attend this retreat, each retreatant must agree to abide by our guidelines, remain on the property after arrival until the end of the retreat, wear a mask in indoor common areas including the meditation hall whenever requested, test for COVID prior to traveling and at designated times during the retreat, and agree to leave the retreat immediately if they become ill, test positive for the coronavirus, refuse to wear a mask, or if for any reason they are asked to leave by the staff or teacher. A question on the retreat application gives applicants the opportunity to affirm their commitment to comply with our guidelines.
We are looking forward to this profound opportunity for practice.
If you have any concerns about our efforts to reduce the risk of contracting coronavirus, please contact the event registrar.